One characteristic of creationist debate over the last few decades has been moving the goal posts. Every time a new fossil is discovered that fits into the evolutionary pattern for some lineage we hear the “it’s still an X” litany, followed by pointing to yet more gaps. Each new fossil, it seems, creates new gaps rather than filling them, according to creationist logic. Those are goalposts on wheels–motorized, no less.
Well, intelligent design proponents carry on this characteristic as well. (Is it any wonder so many of us just call them creationists?) In the case of “irreducible complexity” the goal posts also continue to move. If one supposedly irreducibly complex thing is explained, ID proponents do three things. First, they claim they weren’t really certain that one thing was irreducibly complex. Second, they try to claim it really still is. Third, they point to other irreducibly complex things that have yet to be explained.
Enter the Lamprey, cause of tap-dancing in the halls of IDism. Ian Musgrave has posted on this on The Panda’s Thumb (Behe vs Lampreys), and it’s very interesting. It seems that in nature–you know, the place where we observe what actually happens rather than what we wish would happen–there are a number of simpler clotting systems. The complexity is quite reducible.
Those who have read Darwin’s Black Box will appreciate this line:
To put it in Behe’s imagery, the clotting system of the Lamprey is a mousetrap without a spring.
Hmm! Just so!
Guess who did all the work? The evil, conspiratorial evolutionary scientists who always insist on messing things up by looking at the data. Can’t let that happen, can we? [/sarc]